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New Hate Crime Laws Come Into Force In Scotland

1st April 2024

New measures to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice come into force today (1 April 2024).

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act will provide greater protection for victims and communities.

It introduces new offences for threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred based on prejudice towards characteristics including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics. These extra provisions will add to the long-standing stirring up racial hatred offences, which have been in place UK-wide since 1986.

The new laws were developed following Lord Bracadale's Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation which concluded that new specific offences relating to stirring up hatred were needed. The legislation, which was passed by a majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in 2021, was also subject to extensive consultation and engagement throughout, including with communities affected by hate crime.

Minister for Victims and Community Safety Siobhian Brown said, "Nobody in our society should live in fear and we are committed to building safer communities that live free from hatred and prejudice. We know that the impact on those on the receiving end of physical, verbal or online attacks can be traumatic and life-changing. This legislation is an essential element of our wider approach to tackling that harm.

"Protections for freedom of expression are built into the legislation passed by Parliament and these new offences have a higher threshold for criminality than the long-standing offence of stirring up racial hatred, which has been in place since 1986."

What does it mean in the Guardian